Writing proportions, part 2

Last post, I started the process of inventorying where my writing time goes, why each type of writing I do is enjoyable/valuable, and how much of my time goes to each type. I’ve found it a useful exercise, because it’s always helpful to know where your time is going, it’s useful to know whether or not something you’re sinking time into is worth the amount you’re sinking into it, and because it’s been a nice chance to reflect on where I want to go with writing and whether or not the activities I participate in are setting me on a path to get there.

Credit

Last time, the two buckets I covered were Storium and my novel writing.

This time, we’ll tackle this blog, writing for money, and miscellaneous activities around writing.

Blogging

Obviously, if you’re here, you know I run a personal blog. I’ve been working at it consistently for several years now, posting twice a month, and use it primarily to discuss my life, faith, writing journey, and things I’m learning, wrestling with, or enjoying along the way.

Why I like it:

  • It provides a valuable outlet for self-reflection with deadlines that ensure I am reflecting on a regular basis.
  • Because I have to write my thoughts out in a way that is comprehensible both to myself and others, it forces me to take the time to think through thoughts, ideas, or philosophies that might not otherwise be fully realized in the scattershot of my other thinking. Because I must consistently provide output, it often makes me confront or more fully consider ideas or musings that I might otherwise ignore or avoid.

Why it has value:

  • Having to provide content on a regular basis ensures that I am regularly checking in with myself, my writing, my thoughts, feelings, and/or faith. It ensures consistent forward progress, or at the very least analysis.
  • It ensures that I am writing on a regular basis, even if other avenues of writing are running dry/feeling uninspired.
  • It is an easy way for family or friends to keep up on where I am emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually, or to know how I am learning/growing.

Time allotment:

Depending on the post, it can take me anywhere from 1-4 hours to write a new blog post, not including supplemental time to setup any promotional tweets/posts on social media (which doesn’t take long). As I only do this twice a month, I would say that it takes about 10-20% of my writing time. As this blog is primarily for the benefit of myself and a few close others, this seems about right. There are times when I question it’s continued usefulness, but then when I think of letting it go, I wonder if I would process those emotions/thoughts as well if I didn’t post them here, or if I would lose momentum from not having deadlines, and get less certain of that decision. If anyone has thoughts about that (or thoughts on the value of this blog in general), feel free to let me know!

Writing for money

So, this category is actually fairly new to me (yay!) so data on it is a little sparse. But, suffice to say, I am now doing some freelance blogging. I am currently on a schedule of about one post every three weeks, and plan on putting any of the money I make from that into a “writing fund,” the hope being that in future I might be able to use it to pay for things like promotions, booth fees, editors, conferences, beta readers, etc.

Why I like it:

  • After 10+ years of creative writing, it’s really, really nice to be able to say I am a paid writer. And even though I won’t be spending this money on “fun” things like books or anime, the fact that I’ll be able to save for better quality things on my writing wish list (better editors, maybe cover artists, someone to do social media, etc.) is awesome!
  • The people I’m writing for are great and it’s on a topic I really enjoy, so it’s fun to get to know them and the subject more and to grow by writing about it.
  • Getting experience as a paid writer now can open up future doors. It also feels nice to feel more like a “professional.”

Why it has value:

  • Being an author is expensive, no matter how you publish, so having a nest egg to work towards that is amazing.
  • Having some professional writing chops in general has value, both in my regular day job career and as a writer.
  • I am learning a lot about the subject.
  • This gives me great experience for future freelancing.

Time allotment:

So, with the other writing on my plate, this is not something I can dedicate a ton of time to, and given that I need to rely a little on my “editor” both for ideas and approval, this seems okay. I would say about 10% of my time goes here, with opportunity for it to increase if I so choose (thankfully they have been gracious enough for me to set my own schedule). For now, I think I’ll probably leave it at around here, maybe going up to 15-20% max if they need something sooner/when I want a little extra cash flow. If anyone–especially professional creatives–have thoughts on this/how much time they spend on side gigs (of if they even categorize things like this separately than their usual work), please feel free to let me know!

Secondary tasks

So as I was looking this all over, I realized that I should probably have another bucket for all of the things related to writing that aren’t really a part of these main buckets. Since they are much smaller, I’ll try summing them up in much smaller chunks.

Writing group

This one has been on my list for many years now. With a core group of four (give or take), I typically spend several hours preparing what I’m going to share (usually my current writing project, though sometimes I have to detour if I’m wrestling through a specific plot point or run out of time) and a few hours reading through and commenting on the others’ work, plus the 3ish hour long meeting where we compare and discuss. From this perspective, not including the work I would normally spend writing the novel pieces I submit, this takes up about 15-20% of my writing time.

Social media

As you may know from a previous post, I’m currently on a break from social media, but when I am on it, most of the time I spend related to it goes into scheduling posts for either this blog, events I’ve been attending, or “shelfies,” which are pictures I take of myself with the books I’m reading as a way to promote and support other authors. Since none of that takes much time and I’m not inundated with communications from fans at any given time, I’d say I’d normally spend about 2-5% of my writing time on those tasks, which of course is now currently at 0% with the break.

Events

This category would go mostly towards conferences or classes. But since I don’t go to them very often, despite the fact they do take a lot of time, I’m not going to bother including them here.

So that’s a general summary of most of the writing tasks I do and the amount of time each one of them takes. Next time, we’ll take a look at this summary and break down the numbers!


So, how about you? Have you ever done this kind of analysis? Was it helpful? What strategies have you found to help keep you focused and efficient when tackling your personal projects? What stumbling blocks have you met on the way? Let me know in the comments below, and if you want more posts about my writing, personal journey, or all things nerdy, please feel free to follow me here or on social media using the links in the sidebar or below (keeping in mind I’m currently on a social media break, so I may not respond to posts right away). Thanks for reading!

Writing proportions, part 1

Hi All,

This post is going to be more of a question than most of my posts, so if you have feedback, please let me know.

Anyway, recently I’ve been thinking a lot about about where my time goes, both in general (see my recent post on getting rid of social media) and specifically in regards to writing. I feel as though I’ve been getting more vision for my writing lately as far as what it should be and what it’s for, and the natural outpouring of those thoughts has been how to get there, as well as what to do with the writing I do now, including, for example this blog.

Whether or not I should keep it has actually been on the table.

Which is why I thought I would take some time to reflect on what buckets my different kinds of writing fall into, what I feel the current purposes of each are, and how much of my time should go into them. I thought I’d share those reflections here, both as an example of what a writing life can look like for other aspiring authors, and as an opportunity for feedback from others, both creatives and those who just have busy lives/multiple hobbies. Does it seem like I’m using my time well? If not, why not?

Since this is going to get a little long, I’m going to split it into a few posts, so get ready for some introspection and nerdy numbers for a while, folks.

Anyway, tally-ho.

Storium

I’m not going to lie, this is a decent sized bucket for me. For anyone who doesn’t know, Storium is an online collaborative storytelling platform, or for short hand, a place for online, text-based RPGs. I’ve been playing there for over five years now, mostly consistently, and I have to say of all my writing buckets, this is probably my favorite.

The reasons I like it are:

  • It’s collaborative, which is one of my passions.
  • It’s specific, with short deadlines and clear, small scale objectives.
  • It’s short term.
  • There is little to no editing.

Why it adds value:

  • It’s a chance for me to love on, work with, and support other writers.
  • It relieves stress because the weight of the story is not all on my shoulders.
  • It’s “play,” bringing in the more joyful aspects of creating without the burdens of editing or marketing.
  • It’s practice, ensuring I am consistently writing and improving my skills, even if I am not working on something directly related to my career.

Time allotment:

To be honest, I probably spend about half of my collective writing time/energy between running the story I narrate (Twice Born and Twice Born 2, if anyone is interested) and playing in the other games in which I am playable characters (full list here). Because it’s so fun and (sometimes) fast-paced, I tend to fixate on it like the weird, story junkie I am.

That being said, since I would like to do writing for a living, I think I would like to bring that percentage down closer to 20%. I see immense value in just loving the people in my community and in de-stressing with more free form creativity, especially when I get so bogged down in the weeds with other things, so I don’t want to marginalize this, but I also do need to focus more on the things that can get me closer to where I want to be as a full-time writer (also because if I were a full-time writer, I would have more time for Storium, haha).

Novels

This, obviously, is where the majority of my time should go. As I want to be an author when I grow up someday, anything related to writing or editing the novels I’ve written (or writing new ones) goes into this bucket. Pretty straight forward.

The reasons I like it are:

  • This has been a life-long passion. I love telling stories, and can’t imagine a better job than doing that.
  • It’s my calling. This is what God has called me to do.
  • Stories change lives. When I think of the best way I can serve, love, and support the people I feel called to serve, this is the best way I can imagine to do it.

Why it has value

  • See above list, and…
  • Writing takes work. If I want to reach my dream, I have to work at it, including spending the hours it takes to make books.

Time allotment:

So, it’s summer, which means I’m becoming super lazy enjoying the relaxation and opportunities that nicer weather and road conditions brings, so I’d say right now, I’m operating at about 10-20% (with Storium making up a large amount of that deficiency), but in fall and winter, I trend more towards 30-40%, 60-70% if I’m really in a good system of habits. Ideally, well, I guess I’m not really sure where I’d like this to be. I would say 50% as a ballpark, but then I wonder if that’s too little. It seems like it would be for what should probably be my main focus as a writer, but then I wonder, is that what my main focus should be after all? Is there not more benefit to say, things like Storium, or even going to events to meet and interact with my writing/reading community? And then you get into marketing and all the hoi polloi that comes with that, and it’s easy to see where my writing time could–eventually–slip away.

In any case, if anyone has feedback on that specific little chunk of time, please let me know (keeping in mind these percentages are all in relation to the time I spend strictly on writing and writing related things, not like, all of my time).

Anyway, as this post is getting a bit long, I’ll leave the other three two main buckets and a final run of the numbers for other posts. Any thoughts on managing or organizing time in the meantime appreciated!


So, how about you? Do you spend much time considering where your creative time goes and how its budgeted? Do you find it useful or does the idea of thinking about and budgeting time make your skin crawl? If you do try to partition out your time by task or type of task, what kinds of strategies or systems have you found effective for time management or does it all naturally fall into place? Let me know in the comments below, and if you want more content about my life, writing journey, or all things nerdy, please feel free to follow me here or on social media using the links in the sidebar or below (keeping in mind, social media and I are currently on a break, so if you message me there, I might not get it right away). Thanks for reading!